Monday, March 7, 2011

ERA: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, but You’re Not There Yet!

At the Missouri Business Women’s Legislative Conference this weekend, I experienced a refresher course on the Equal Rights Amendment. Alice Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 and it was introduced in Congress every year between 1923-1972. When the ERA passed only 35 states ratified it—three states short. The deadline was extended until 1982, but women had no luck getting the other three states to put equal rights in the constitution.

Chief Justice Scalia recently shot holes into sexual discrimination being included in the 14th amendment when he said the constitution does not have protection for women. One might wonder if the 14th amendment gave women equal rights (a favorite opposition argument) why did it take the 19th amendment to give women the right to vote?

This is the wording of the Equal Rights Amendment:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

The 15 states that have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

The Equal Rights Amendment is not dead! If three more states ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, the precedent of the “Madison Amendment” for congressional pay, which was ratified 203 years later, gives support to the “Three State Strategy.”

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Copyright © March 2011 L. S. Fisher